Huawei announced its digital inclusion initiative, Tech4ALL at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019. During his speech at the ministerial program of the MWC, Deputy Chairman of Huawei, Ken H, underscored how digital inclusion should be more comprehensive. ‘While much of the telecommunications industry is focused on next generation technology like 5G and AI,’ Hu said, ‘we can't forget that there are still many people excluded from the digital world. There are still more than 3.8 billion people who are offline, and one billion people without mobile broadband coverage.’ To this aim, Tech4ALL is crafted to tackle digital inclusion for individuals and organisations equally through addressing: (a) connectivity: providing remote areas and extreme climates to access digital resources, (b) applications: providing an easy-to-use development platform, thriving in the ecosystem, and generating applications, and (c) skills: improving the digital capabilities of organisations, local communities, and national digital economies. Huawei further acknowledged that digital inclusion necessitates collaboration between governments, industry organisations, and enterprises to provide the required technology that meets the needs of local communities as well as different groups and organisations.
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.
Capacity development is often defined as the improvement of knowledge, skills and institutions to make effective use of resources and opportunities. Widespread on the agenda of international development agencies, capacity development programs range from societal to individual level and include a diversity of strategies, from fundraising to targeted training.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).
The digital divide can be defined as a rift between those who, for technical, political, social, or economic reasons, have access and capabilities to use ICT/Internet, and those who do not. Various views have been put forward about the size and relevance of the digital divide.